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Organic Farming

Community Gardens Market Garden Project Slippery Rock Farmers' Market

 

What do we mean by 'organic'?

Organic refers to foodstuffs grown or raised without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, or genetic modifications.  It therefore also refers to the practices by which those crops were grown.  All kinds of agricultural products are produced organically, including produce, grains, meat, dairy, eggs, fibers such as cotton, flowers, and processed food products.

Organic farming is not just about what's not done, as in the absence of pesticides, but what practices do go on.  Organic farming management relies on developing biological diversity in the field to disrupt habitat for pest organisms, as well as the purposeful maintenance and replenishment of soil fertility.  Some of the essential characteristics of organic systems include: design and implementation of an "organic system plan" that describes the practices used in producing crops and livestock products; a detailed recordkeeping system that tracks all products from the field to point of sale; and maintenance of buffer zones to prevent inadvertent contamination from adjacent conventional fields.

 

Why grow organic?

Organically grown produce is safer than conventionally grown produce.  Health risks associated with hormonal, chemical, and transgenic contamination are greatly reduced when food is grown without pesticides, herbicides, and genetic modifications.

Numerous studies have proven the health benefits of organic produce. A review of 41 published studies comparing the nutritional value of organically grown and conventionally grown vegetables concluded that there is 27% more vitamin C, 21.1% more iron, 29.3% more magnesium, and 13.6% more phosphorus in organically grown produce.

A recent article in the Journal of Applied Nutrition found

  • 63% more Calcium in organic produce than conventionally grown produce

  • 138% more Magnesium, which reduces mortality from heart attacks, prevents muscle spasms, and eases the symptoms of PMS

  • 390% more Selenium, an antioxidant that protects humans from environmental chemicals, cancers, and heart disease. 70% more Boron, which prevents osteoporosis

  • 78% more Chromium, a micronutrient that prevents adult diabetes and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)

  • 9 times more salicylic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties and helps prevent colon cancer and atherosclerosis

  • 15.1% less nitrates, which are thought to elevate the risk of cancer, in organic produce than their conventional counterparts.

Organic farming also promotes ecological sustainabilityThe elimination of polluting chemicals and nitrogen leaching, done in combination with soil building, protects and conserves water resources. Organic farming reduces toxic farming runoff and pollutants that contaminate our water, soil and air.  Well balanced soils grow strong healthy plants that taste great.

Organic agriculture respects the balance demanded of a healthy ecosystem: wildlife is an essential part of a total farm and is encouraged by including forage crops in rotation and by retaining fence rows, wetlands, and other natural areas.

 

The Macoskey Center provides opportunities for students and community members alike to learn about and get involved in organic gardening systems. Gardening workshops are offered by RAMC staff in the spring, and the community gardens are open to everyone. 

Slippery Rock students maintain the Market Garden Project, where they grow organic produce and sell it in the community. RAMC staff also manage the Slippery Rock Farmers' Market.

The Robert A. Macoskey Center at Slippery Rock University

247 Harmony Road Slippery Rock, PA 16057 (724) 738 - 4050 macoskey.center@sru.edu